Friday, October 7, 2011

What Would Homer and Charry’s Ahnentafel Entry Look Like with Source Citations?

In an earlier posting, I looked at Homer and Charity “Charry” (Everett) Curtiss, who were ancestors 122 and 123 in an online ahnentafel.[1] That ahnentafel had some sources listed under Homer’s entry. There were several issues with how those sources were listed. My complaint was that they were not linked to the particular statements of fact that they supported.

Homer and Charry with Source Citations Linked to Facts

Here is what I think the ahnentafel entry on Homer and Charry would look like if its source citations were done in a standard format. I haven’t changed the presentation of facts in this entry nor have I changed which sources were used in any significant way. I’ve simply attached citations to statements of fact.

#122. Homer Curtiss, b. 30 May 1787 CT;[2] d. 30 Apr 1886 Waverly, Morgan Co., IL;[3] m. 25 Oct 1810[4]
#123. Charity Everett, b. 16 Oct 1789/90 CT;[5] d. 30 Dec 1876[6]

Have We Succeeded in Creating a Credible Work Product?

When I first ran those online citations down, astute blog readers noted that the quality of the sources used was not the best. Citations allow us to weigh the reliability of what we are reading. The three books in particular set off warning bells. The Weygant book fails to supply dates, locations, or even the name of Homer’s wife, although it does list several children. The Carter genealogy fails to marry Homer off at all. Only the Curtiss book provides full dates, locations and names. None of the books includes source citations.

The Find-a-Grave site provides a photograph of a shared gravestone. One reader pointed out that the stone’s design may be more recent than the 1886 death of Homer. This is a serious question. If the stone was more recent, then there is a possibility that it was installed far from the time in which the events happened. The stone only carries years of birth and death.

In seeking to find a credible way to present this genealogical information, we have come closer to showing the qualities of being well-intentioned and truthful as we have shown the limitations of what we know. We have also shown a small amount of expertise, as we have linked the statements of fact to individual source citations. Better sources are available. By using them, we could improve the credibility and reliability of the ahnentafel work product.

[1] Robert Battle, Michael Hurdle [contributor], “Ancestry of Sarah Palin,” updated 15 Sept. 2008, Rootsweb; : 6 Oct 2011.
[2] Howard Williston Carter, Carter: a Genealogy of the Descendants of Thomas Carter of Reading and Weston, Mass., and of Hebron and Warren, Ct., also Some Account of Some Descendants of his Brothers, Eleazer, Daniel, Ebenezer and Ezra, Sons of Thomas Carter and Grandsons of Rev. Thomas Carter, First Minister of Woburn, Massachusetts, 1642 (Norfolk, Connecticut: self-pub., 1909), 38. Laura Guthrie Curtis Preston, The Curtis Family: a Record of some of the Descendants of Deodatus Curtis of Braintree, Massachusetts (Marietta, Ohio: self-pub., 1945), 33.
[3] Preston, The Curtis Family, 33. Photograph of gravestone: Cheryl Behrend and Paula Berry Nelson, “Homer Curtiss,” Find-A-Grave, Memorial # 11767168; : 6 Oct 2011.
[4] Preston, The Curtis Family, 33. Note that the wife’s name is unidentified in Charles H. Weygant, The Sacketts of America: Their Ancestors and Descendants, 1630-1907 (Newburgh, New York: [journal print,] 1907), 254.
[5] Preston, The Curtis Family, 33.
[6] Edward Franklin Everett, Descendants of Richard Everett of Dedham, Mass. (Boston: privately printed, 1902), 76.